- Title: City dwellers drawn to the simple life of rural China commune
- Date: 30th December 2019
- Summary: VARIOUS OF TANG GUANHUA, FOUNDER OF ANOTHERCOMMUNITY, PLAYING GUITAR AND SINGING TANG'S WIFE XING ZHEN LISTENING AND LOOKING ON
- Embargoed: 13th January 2020 00:22
- Keywords: China Fujian Fuzhou anothercommunity community sustainable life village village commune
- Location: GUANZHONG VILLAGE, FUZHOU, FUJIAN PROVINCE, CHINA
- City: GUANZHONG VILLAGE, FUZHOU, FUJIAN PROVINCE, CHINA
- Country: China
- Topics: Living / Lifestyle,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA002BC64C3R
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: PART AUDIO QUALITY AS INCOMING
Yang Zhaoyu quit his job in a big Chinese city nine months ago and moved to a small community that preaches sustainable living and mindful consumption.
The 30-year-old former software developer lived a predictable life which included going to college, getting married, and finding a stable job in a big city.
But Yang found himself wanting something different, so he ditched his career in Suzhou, west of Shanghai and started a new life in an isolated community centred around sustainability and organic farming.
"I just want to completely give up the old life, or find a totally new way of life," said Yang.
He also left his wife, at least temporarily, who declined to join him on his journey. She was supportive though, he said.
China's teeming megacities have drawn hundreds of millions of people from rural villages and small towns in search of jobs and wealth, but people like Yang are part of an emerging trend in the opposite direction.
A recent poll of people aged 18-35 by a state think-tank found 52% of those living in smaller towns and cities moved there after spending on average three years in top-tier cities, to get away from the fast pace of life.
Known as AnotherCommunity, Yang's new home is an hour's drive outside of Fuzhou city in Fujian province in southwest China, and located in Guanzhong village. It was set up by Tang Guanhua, 30, and his wife, Xing Zhen, 35, in late 2015.
After a year at AnotherCommunity, residents can vote to have a say in its affairs and use shared funds and resources. There are currently five permanent members and 34-year-old Wang Zhenxing is one of them.
Wang had a job as administrive staff in a private school in Beijing, but for the last four years he has been living in the community. He's been working on the land growing rice and roselle which he shares with the community or sells online.
"Through this land and things I do here, it enables me to generate my own thoughts and ideas," said Wang. "I find it very meaningful, or quite interesting from my point of view."
The commune is now opening its doors to the public for a four-month trial. Since mid-October, over 20 potential residents - from former computer programmers to online English teachers and freelance videographers - have signed up to join.
Critics say commune life is "unambitious" and influences society in a negative way. But Wang disagrees.
"It is more complicated and more difficult to survive in this place than living in the city. In fact, you need a lot of strength every day to build a future," he says.
Chinese media is full of stories about people seeking alternative lifestyles in the countryside.
But the utopia is not free from troubles. In 2018, AnotherCommunity had to destroy much of what they had built due to pressure from the local government, though in recent months they have been left alone.
A newspaper reported in 2018 that a young woman had moved into the Zhongnan Mountains in Shanxi province seeking a hermit life. Her story went viral on social media after she was forcibly evicted. Those mountains have since attracted young people from all over China. At one point, the community had over 600 residents, many former city dwellers, according to media reports.
The regional government, irked by what they saw as an incursion, tore down the illegal structures.
(Production: Irene Wang)
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